The most wonderful time of the year can be an enormous challenge for families across the country. Between extra socializing, bigger meals, and presents, the holidays can rack up quite the bill. Last year, Americans added $1,000 in holiday debt to the festivities.
Are you destined to share the same fate? While the holidays may be expensive, there are ways to manage your spending and, if you’re lucky, save some money, too. Here’s how:
Boosting Your Income
Giving your income a bump when you know you’ll be facing extra expenses never hurts. Any extra cash you manage to earn can go straight into your holiday fund.
This is a great way of having the best of both worlds. You can celebrate the festivities without reducing your spending in the lead up to the holidays. You’ll have enough cash to go around to afford everything.
The challenge is juggling a second job when you’re already busy. If you don’t have the time to pick up evening and weekend shifts at a traditional job, there are ways to earn extra cash at home on your own time. Think about what skills or hobbies you can leverage into a side gig or freelance job and start from there.
Cutting Back on Other Expenses
It isn’t always easy getting a second job, let alone finding the time to work it. You’re busy, so don’t fret if a bigger paycheck isn’t in the cards this year. Your budget may have a hidden trove of cash, and you don’t need to leave your house to find it.
Sit down with your budget and divide your spending habits into the naughty and nice piles.
Your nice list should include essential bills like rent, utilities, and groceries — the things that are crucial to your health and safety. These can stay in your budget untouched.
The naughty list, on the other hand, is ready for a major overhaul. Filled with unnecessary purchases, it contains expenses you don’t need to make. By cutting out naughty expenses, you can free up more cash to put into holiday spending.
Understanding Credit’s Role in the Festivities
When all that hard work doesn’t free up as much as cash as you hope, tapping into a personal loan or line of credit may be as tempting as that second helping of pumpkin pie.
Before you reach for these financial products, remember that they’re designed for unexpected emergencies. And, with the holidays arriving at roughly the same time each year, they’re one of the most reliable expenses in your annual budget.
Reserve a personal loan or line of credit for genuine emergencies, like rushing to the ER after burning yourself while cooking or calling out for a plumber during holiday hours when your pipes clog or freeze.
Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe help to make the season bright, but do you really need an 8-foot tree, a mountain of presents for the kids, and a Michelin-star-worthy meal every night?
Once you think about it, you’ll recognize these as the frills that they are. What truly matters around the holidays is spending time with people you love.
Recentering the holidays around this priority may help you rein in your spending.
If your holiday budget falls short of what you need, speak with your family about what you can and can’t afford. There’s a way to talk about cash without dampening people’s spirits.
Saving money around the holidays is easy — just follow the tips outline above!